The fate of the Burley Municipal Airport continues to be uncertain

“They have been going to move this airport for 25 years.”
Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 4:34 PM MST
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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The fate of the Burley Municipal Airport continues to hang in the balance, for years the airport has been fighting to come up with a way to move forward.

KMVT is putting your first to explain whether or not the dark cloud hanging above a vital part of the Mini-Cassia community has any way of clearing up soon.

The J.R. Jack Simplot Airport in Burley will close at some point in time when it can no longer be maintained, according to Burley city administrator Mark Mitton. This is a story KMVT has followed for five years, and in 2021 this municipal airport’s future is still uncertain.

“They have been going to move this airport for 25 years,” said Kevin Gebhart the airport manager.

Since its founding in the early 1900s, the airport has provided general aviation to local businesses and is also currently a location for Life Flight.

“I think the community does not realize sometimes how much they need the airport,” Gebhart said “They should be involved.”

Nearly three years ago, they lost their Federal Aviation Administration funding because it did not meet their safety standards due to short runways. The airport cannot expand because it is landlocked between the Snake River and train tracks. The best option for them is to create an entirely new airport in a different location, something they need F.A.A funding for, and to run the airport the city of burley is seeking to establish an airport authority.

“An airport is vital to all the transportation to all the business especially the larger ones who provide a lot of the jobs,” said Gebhart.

Currently, state law requires three counties to join together to form an airport authority, however, Minidoka and Cassia do not have another adjoining county that does not already have an airport. Last year, the city of Burley attempted to change the legislation to allow two counties to form the airport authority, but it got stalled. now they are hoping it will be reintroduced.

“I mean it is a simple change to legislation,” said Mitton. “We are still hoping it can get through it’s still early in the legislative session.”

If the legislation does get passed it would then make its way to the voters who would have to decide if a temporary increase to property tax is worth a new airport.

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